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Saturday 10 December 2016

In brief: No lucky seven for Lennon

Published 20/02/2011 | 05:00

Celtic manager Neil Lennon admits he is finding it difficult to approach a total of seven Old Firm games in one season with the usual relish. Celtic and Rangers meet for the fourth time this season when they come face to face at Parkhead today (12.30). The Glasgow rivals are battling it out for domestic honours on three fronts, with a Scottish Cup fifth-round replay and a CIS cup final to come next month.

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Lennon insists the SPL clash will not lose any edge given the close nature of the title race -- Rangers are five points behind with two games in hand --but admits he could do without the extra strain of an Old Firm build-up seven times a season.

"It's probably too many the way the fixtures have thrown it up with four in the league, the cup draw and the cup final," he said. "The supporters might like it every week but for the managers, four would be plenty."

Hughes eyeing FA cup run

As a four-time winner with Manchester United and Chelsea, Fulham boss Mark Hughes needs no lessons on the significance of the FA Cup ahead of today's fifth round tie at home to Bolton. Though Hughes admits the competition is not a priority for every manager, he insists a strong cup run can lift a side.

"It's important for us because I've always believed a good cup run helps your league form," he said. "We're on a good run and we want to keep that confidence high and maintain our performance levels.

"It's about priorities and maybe certain managers and clubs have different priorities in terms of going for Europe or trying to stay in the Premier League. That has changed the focus but I feel if you're in a competition why not go as far as you can."

Zaliukas grabs late winner

Marius Zaliukas scored an 88th-minute winner as Hearts fought back from behind to claim a dramatic victory over Dundee United, with United's David Goodwillie also missing an injury-time penalty. United had taken an early lead at Tynecastle through Barry Douglas before Rudi Skacel levelled just before half-time.

Hearts moved to within two points of Rangers, but manager Jim Jefferies suggested third place was a more realistic ambition: "We are only two or three wins from getting third place. We are not there yet and we can't take anything for granted."

Elsewhere, Aberdeen thumped Kilmarnock 5-0 with goals from Scott Vernon, Sone Aluko, Chris Maguire (penalty), Rory McArdle and Josh Magennis. Inverness defeated St Johnstone 2-0 with Ross Tokely and Russell Duncan on the mark; and John Sutton converted a penalty to give Motherwell a 1-0 win over Hamilton.

QPR denied by Nicholson

Barry Nicholson's 64th- minute thunderbolt salvaged a point for rock-bottom Preston and denied Championship leaders QPR victory at Deepdale, despite Icelandic striker Heidar Helguson scoring his ninth goal of the season to put Neil Warnock's men ahead in the 37th minute.

At the Madejski Stadium, Ireland international Noel Hunt's second-half strike was enough to cancel out Andreas Weimann's 27th minute effort and earn Reading a point as they drew 1-1 with Watford.

Forest move up to second

One-time Cardiff striker Robert Earnshaw struck against his former club as Nottingham Forest moved up to second place in the Championship. Defender Wes Morgan put Forest ahead just after the half-hour and Peter Whittingham equalised from the spot in the 64th minute before Earnshaw won it for Forest three minutes later. "We played some wonderful football, created a lot of chances and thoroughly deserved to take three points," said Forest boss Billy Davies.

Somma earns Leeds a point

Super-sub Davide Somma fired a 75th minute equaliser for Leeds with his first touch in a thrilling 2-2 draw with Norwich. The Canaries had taken the lead through Wes Hoolahan after Henri Lansbury cancelled out Luciano Becchio's opener. "He [Somma] has got a fantastic attitude," said Leeds manager Simon Grayson. "I wouldn't say he's best coming off the bench because he scores for us when he starts as well."

Hitzlsperger to make bow

Former Aston Villa midfielder Thomas Hitzlsperger is set to make his long awaited West Ham debut in their FA Cup fifth round clash with Burnley tomorrow. The German signed for the Hammers on a free transfer last summer but was injured on international duty before the start of the season.

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